Check out this Q&A's with two up and coming gentleman from Bristol. They've just completed a demo and are currently tipping their toes into the deep waters that is independent artistry.
Where are you guys from?
Merlin: We're from Bristol, birthplace of such artists as Aspects, Numbskullz and Se Fire.
How did you hook up with each other?
Merlin: We've been in the same school since we were both eleven, but we didn't really hook up until we were fifteen or sixteen I think, that's when I started making really mediocre beats for Rick's ex-crew "J-Blam". After that, we started meeting up together so Rick could hear my beats, and then we just started making beautiful music together.
Rick: I'd been rhyming for a few years before that and I was fed up of jacking beats off the internet so when Merlin started making beats for us it made life so much easier. Then the crew fell to bits and I'm the only one left, so Merlin's stuck with me. haha!
How old are you and how long have you been into hip-hop?
Merlin: We're both seventeen going on eighteen. I haven't been into hip-hop all that long to be honest, and I don't really know anything about hip-hop. I only really know of the artists that Rick tells me about.
Rick: Yeh I'm the expert in this field, hehe. I've been into hip hop since I can remember really. I was one of them kids who got into hip hop from being fascinated in the 2pac and Biggie beef. Of course I was a true believer of the west side being the best side, haha, but I must have been about 8 or so. I can thank my big brother for getting me into it all.
Have you took much influence from the increasing number of UK rap acts that reside in Bristol?
Merlin: My main influences from Bristol are Aspects and BabyHead, if you haven't heard any BabyHead I suggest you check them out. I also like the slower calmer stuff like Portishead though. Rick will probably have more to say about influences because he's been in this thing way longer than me.
Rick: Of course Aspects, those guys are legends and a major influence to me. But I tend to take influences from anywhere and everywhere really, US artists like Akrobatik, J-Live and Edan have been a massive influence to the way I look at hip hop.
Ever bumped into the likes of Aspects and Fat Club?
Rick: Yeh El Eye works in Replay up park street so he's influenced me to buy a few CD's and stuff, haha. I met him and Truro of Fat Club at a battle of the mc's style competition my mate entered. They were judging it. I bumped into 'em afterwards and they were proper sound blokes.
What motivated you to start work on your demo?
Merlin: At school we have a studio. We get to use it for free, and we love hip-hop. My main motivation was that there are so many people out there who are really into hip-hop, but don't do anything about it. I thought that we may as well snap up the opportunity of free, unlimited studio time.
Rick: I admit that yes it wouldn't be possible without all that free studio time and equipment, we just can't afford that sort of thing! But basically we made an EP before this one called "Ill Minded" that was under a different name that we concocted during a funny 5 minutes. The Butterswoop Kids! haha. I mean that EP is alright, but it was mainly just a stepping stone for us to see how we worked together. it seemed to do alright for us so about 3 months after that was done we started on this project, I'd say that was our motivation to do this one.
How long did it take and was it entirely made by you, or did anyone else come on board and help out?
Merlin: It took about three or four months, and yes it was recorded and mastered completely by us. When one person was in the live room, the other was on the desk recording him.
Rick: Yeh that was another thing we learnt from doing the first EP, now we got a bit of a routine when we step in the studio now and its much quicker. I mean the guest appearances were obviously a massive help, big thanks to Dukebox for producing the beat with Merlin to Lucypher and also doing the cuts. Bennie the Kid and Lenny savage on Tenderly were really easy to work with and made life a lot easier for us so cheers.
What equipment did you use to put it together?
Merlin: We used whatever desk it is at school (we don't really pay attention), and for the vocals we used an AKG C3000. All effects and recordings were done in Cubase VST, and we used WaveLab to dither and normalize etc.
Rick: Don't ask me I'm just a puppet.
It sounds like the average software was used for the beats but there's a variety of approaches. Was it a deliberate attempt to try getting a mixture of vibes down?
Merlin: I wasn't really aiming for the beats to turn out as varied as they are, it's just what happens when I get on my computer really. My favourite beats to make are the jazzy and funky ones like W.O.R.D and tenderly, but sometimes I just stumble across a sample that I feel like it would be a waste to not try to use it. I use FruityLoops 3 to make all of my beats, which some people say is wank, but if you can make beats on it and people seem to think that they're good, why bother changing?
Will you be sending off the demo to labels in hopes of getting signed? Or releasing it indy soon?
Merlin: So far we've sent it off to you, Zebra Traffic, Sin Nombre, and Venue magazine. We haven't heard from anyone yet. We're gonna release it independently if we don't hear from anyone soon. If we get jobs that is.
Rick: Yeah we're both bums at the moment, we quit our jobs without sorting anything else out for money, so we're job hunting now, I'm thinking get some exposure, play at as many venues as possible and work with as many artists as possible and hopefully get our asses noticed. i've been doing this a while now and it would be good to get something back for once.
Do you get the opportunity to do any live performances or open mics?
Merlin: We have a hard time getting gigs because we're not eighteen yet, so we can't get any gigs because most of the places that host hip-hop nights are eighteen and up. Rick can usually get in, but I've never been to an open mic night or anything because I don't have any facial hair.
Rick: Well no-ones gonna take us now cause you just broadcasted it! ah well, I got a beard so its all good. Nobody will ever know! but we are really looking for gigs right now so it would be fly as hell if a promoter is reading this! haha.
Who are you feeling on the UK rap scene right now?
Merlin: I really like Braintax. I think he's a genius, and I would love to work with him in the future. I also like Task Force, Roots Manuva, and Rodney P's new album is really good.
Rick: Yeh I agree Braintax is a legend. The people I'd really like to work with are the likes of Baron Samedi, or Iron Bridge cause I reckon they are dope! Jehst and Yungun are definitely my favourite lyricists, to the point where they make me sick! hehe.
What's the greatest and fakest UK hip-hop release you've ever heard?
Merlin: I really couldn't say, because I don't know enough about hip-hop.
Rick: Man that's such a hard question. The greatest UK hip hop release eh? I'm thinking Braintax Biro Funk is definitely up there. the Fakest, hmmm that would have to be the majority of shite that's on Channel U, haha! It's a good idea and all, but it doesn't half attract some poor music.
Any shout out's or plugs?
Merlin: Check out our site at http://www.wordassociation.tk for remixes and stuff, and anyone who has soulseek, get our CD off of someone for free!
Rick: keep yourself informed about our movements, any new releases, projects etc. they will be happening soon. look out for collabo's with Nucleuz, Madrox and danDNA, plus I'm gonna be on this mc from Chile's LP, he goes by the name of Loko Doble and he's dope! jumping on the spanish vibe ya'll!